Baker continues to cite constraints in vaccine supply
Announces Fenway mass vax site will move to Hynes
ARE YOU A Massachusetts resident frustrated to be still waiting for your COVID shot? Gov. Charlie Baker has a message: blame the feds.
“I think it’s unfair that I can’t currently vaccinate everyone in Massachusetts who wants to get vaccinated, but it’s a fact. It’s a reality. Until there’s more vaccine we’re going to be playing this waiting game,” Baker said at a press conference Thursday after touring a Lawrence vaccination site for seniors.
Throughout the press conference, Baker repeatedly returned to the problem of a lack of vaccine supply. Baker said the state “could easily do twice the capacity we will do” if it received more vaccines.
Thursday morning, 12,000 appointments at mass vaccination sites were posted on the Massachusetts vaccine website and quickly snapped up. That was far fewer than have been posted the last few weeks. Baker said many of the sites are already scheduled with appointments for second doses from people who got their first dose three or four weeks ago. A state call center helped 13,000 seniors who could not use the site make appointments. And the administration is spreading out supply, giving shots to hospitals and to community health centers and municipal sites in hard-hit neighborhoods.
Under pressure from the federal government, Baker announced Wednesday that nearly 400,000 teachers, school staff, and early education providers would become eligible for vaccines next Thursday – adding another large group to compete with the pool of residents over age 65 or with medical conditions who are already eligible and struggling to get appointments. Other essential workers have been complaining that they were pushed back to favor teachers.
Baker said due to the importance of vaccinating the elderly, who are more at risk for hospitalization and death, he did not anticipate setting aside large numbers of doses for teachers because he had not gotten any extra supply from the federal government. He acknowledged that will make it hard for educators to get shots by the end of March, as President Biden has said he would like to see happen. “Unless there’s a significant increase in supply coming through the feds, it will be hard to get through the current eligible universe before the end of March,” Baker said.
The federal government could potentially increase the number of vaccines available in Massachusetts through its partnership with pharmacies, which get vaccines directly from the federal government.
Asked why Massachusetts doesn’t allow residents to book appointments more than a week in advance, Baker said the information he is getting from the government and vaccine manufacturers is unreliable. “Let’s suppose we made a decision to believe everything we’ve been told with respect to Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J, and scheduled out three weeks. We’d be in really big trouble right now,” Baker said. “Because none of those vendors are actually playing at the level they said they were going to be playing at a few weeks ago.”Baker also announced that with the Red Sox scheduled to begin playing at Fenway Park on April 1, with fans allowed at 12 percent of stadium capacity, the mass vaccination site now operating at the ballpark will be moved to the Hynes Convention Center. The site at Hynes will open March 18, and the site at Fenway will close March 27.